Each autumn, Illinois State University offers kids in the community a chance to participate in a series of art classes, learning visual arts and drama. Naturally, those classes have a twist this year.
The classes have migrated online, running from Sept. 19 through Oct. 17. They are taught by college student art teacher candidates. But it’s not only the kids who will benefit because the Saturday morning classes offer an unexpected opportunity to those who are teaching the children.
It’s a lesson that will serve them well as they launch their teaching careers amid the pandemic, said Judith Briggs.
Briggs teaches in the art teacher education program in the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts at ISU. She said going virtual for the classes this year has presented a challenge, but the art teacher candidates are embracing the change.
“Our students do have the training. They’ve taken a digital art class, so they know how to put things online, they know how to make how-to videos. The teaching candidates are really excited about this,” said Briggs.
“Teachers in Unit 5 and District 87 are starting virtually. They must have their Google classroom prepared and they must have their how-to videos. So, our art teacher candidates are getting hand-on experience with that right away. When they finally do their student teaching, they will know what goes into teaching virtually.”
The Saturday classes utilize Zoom and Google Drive, which presented the planners with an unexpected hurdle, said Briggs.
“It took some time to work with ISU legal to make sure that we could use Zoom and Google Drive with the younger students. Our students will be communicating by email strictly with the parents and guardians of the children who will be involved in the classes.”
Keeping young people safe online is paramount to organizers, Briggs said.
“Our teacher candidates go through two different background checks. They will be teaching from their own homes. There’s a certain online protocol that we walk them through, about how to be very professional and how to present things on a developmental level through Zoom.”
Using Google Drive allows the teachers to provide supplementary material for the kids taking the classes. Art kits with myriad supplies are provided for those who register for the classes.
“All the supplies in the art kits are worth $25,” Briggs explained. “And the cost of the program is $25. So, this is not a money-making thing. This is just an experience thing.”
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